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Nokia: Let HP inspire you
by Asa Butcher
2008-07-10 09:02:42
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Earlier this week Nokia released a report that revealed only a small percentage of mobile phones are recycled, even though they include valuable and potentially toxic materials. According to the survey that polled 6,500 people in a dozen countries, only three percent of users turn in their old phones for recycling and three-quarters of those polled said they had not considered recycling their old phones, while almost half did not know it was possible to do so, including myself.

Bizarrely though, only four percent of used handsets end up in landfills which would make you think it is some consolation to the environment, yet Nokia believes that if every user turned in at least one old phone, it would represent savings in raw materials and thus a reduction in greenhouse emissions equivalent to removing four million cars from traffic. When it comes to equalling the removal of four million automobiles then something pro-active should be done, but what?

Simple. Follow the brilliant example of Hewlett-Packard who, last July, successfully met its target of recycling one billion pounds of electronics six months early and then immediately set a new target for another billion pounds by the end of 2010. “Environmental responsibility is good business,” says Mark Hurd, HP chairman and chief executive officer, on the company's website. “We’ve reached the tipping point where the price and performance of IT are no longer compromised by being green, but are now enhanced by it.”

Whatever you may think of HP, you can't deny that their approach to recycling and the environment is admirable. For those of you who have never bought a new print cartridge from HP then you may not know that alongside every HP Inkjet or LaserJet cartridge is a pre-paid envelope for your old cartridge. Simply seal up the envelope and post it free back to HP, which I do every time - it is practical, free and idiot-proof. You can even recycle HP hardware.

It was disappointing that following the release of Nokia's survey there was no public announcement by the phone manufacturer concerning their plans to tackle the problem. How hard would it be for Nokia to do the same the as HP? You unpack your new phone and send your old one back inside a pre-paid envelope in the post, but they didn't do anything. Nokia happily proclaims the "many environmental firsts" they’ve achieved, but they clumsily dropped the ball on this one.

Nokia estimates that three billion people have mobile phones and the average owner has had five phones in their lifetime, which is a number that certainly matches my record since my first mobile phone in 1998. What did I do with each of my old handsets? I'm not sure, but I do know that a couple of my wife's went to my daughter as toys, one went to a family member and the others just vanished into thin air. We still find old Nokia phone chargers in different boxes that don't really help either of us since we now own Samsung and Sony-Ericsson phones.

I can only hope that Nokia decided to carry out this survey and release the results in order to seek solutions and remove those "four million cars from the road" because we are living in an age where Corporate Social Responsibility is becoming increasingly prevalent and important to both consumers and potential employees. We want to know that a company, whether it is a corporate giant or high street store, is doing all it can to protect this planet and the ideals that are close to our hearts. I respect what HP is trying to do and they have my loyalty because of that… perhaps Nokia could call me back to its fold if they followed in HP's footsteps.

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